Goffine’s Devout Instructions – Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

Prayer

O God I Who knows that, placed amidst so many dangers, we cannot, through human frailty, stand, grant us safety of mind and body, that we may, by Your aid, surmount those things which we suffer for our sins. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle – Romans 13:8-10

Brethren: Owe no man anything, but to love one another; for he that loves his neighbor hath fulfilled the law. For thou shalt not commit adultery: Thou shalt not kill: Thou shalt not steal: Thou shalt not bear false witness: Thou shalt not covet: and if there be any other commandment, it is comprised in this word: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The love of our neighbor works no evil. Love, therefore, is the fulfilling of the law.

How are we to understand those words of Saint Paul, “He that loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law”?

Saint Augustine explains them as follows: Our love towards our neighbor must have its origin in the love of God; for if we love our neighbor, we must love him for God’s sake. Now he who loves God keeps the first four commandments, for he believes in God, hopes in Him, loves Him, and honors Him, while he also loves and honors his parents. But he who loves his neighbor keeps the rest of the commandments also, since that love prevents him from doing any injury to his neighbor, so that he will not kill, nor steal, nor calumniate, nor bear false witness; thus he fulfills the law, for “upon these two commandments depend the whole law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:40)

Gospel – Matthew 8:25-27

illustration of Christ asleep in the storm from Goffine's Devout Instructions“At that time, when Jesus entered into the boat. His disciples followed Him: and behold a great tempest arose in the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves, but He was asleep. And His disciples came to Him, and awakened Him, saying: Lord, save us, we perish. And Jesus saith to them. Why are you fearful, O you of little faith? Then rising up He commanded the winds, and the sea; and there came a great calm. But the men wondered, saying, What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey Him?

Why did Jesus sleep while a great tempest arose in the sea?

1. He thereby tested the faith of His disciples, and confirmed it by the miracle of their escape.

2. He, by this occasion, taught the just and pious not to be scandalized or discouraged if God should visit them with affliction, such as sickness, poverty, or other miseries.

3. He teaches us also to seek refuge in Him, and encourages us to hope for help.

Why did Our Saviour reprove His disciples?

Because they showed a want of faith and confidence. Even had they been then drowned, such a death would have been to them the entrance to eternal life. “Cursed be the man that trusts in man, . . . but blessed be the man that trusts in the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:5,7) Let us, therefore, in any adversity or danger be firm in our belief that God cares for us, and have confidence in Him and He will hear our prayers, if it be for our good, as He quieted the wind and the sea with His almighty word.

What can we further learn from this gospel?

1. How willingly Jesus assists us.

2. That He will protect His Church in all storms and persecutions, since He, the Almighty, is always with her.

3. How willingly we should follow Jesus, since even the winds and waves obey Him.

4. That we should not look with indifference at the wonders of God’s omnipotence and benevolence, but from them learn to raise our thoughts in love to Him.

For if those men wondered, saying, “Who is this? for even the winds and the sea obey Him,” how much rather should we know and love God from the innumerable miracles of His love and power.

Aspiration

Grant us, O most benign Jesus, great confidence in Thy divine assistance whenever we are in need, and allow us not to be of little faith. Be our Saviour in the many dangers that surround us; make use of Your omnipotence against our enemies; command the impetuous winds and sea of persecution that they may be calm; and give peace and quiet to Your Church, which Thou hast redeemed with Your precious blood, that we may serve You in sanctity and justice, and come safely to the wished-for haven of eternal happiness. Amen.

– Goffine’s Devout Instructions